How to make arnica oil: nature’s natural cure for bug bites, pain, swelling and bruises

Arnica is nature’s natural cure for bug bites, pain, swelling, and bruises! 

Harvesting arnica flowers and making an oil is very easy to do and requires little prep or equipment. Below is a to the point guide with pictures to show you how it’s done.

I’m so thankful my girl Jody @wildnorthernway taught me how to harvest and make this arnica oil. It’s provided some serious relief to not only my bug bites but also bruises and achy knees.

Instructions are pretty darn easy: You rub it on the skin directly, 3 to 4 times a day or as needed. 



  • Jar with a lid
  • Strainer
  • Measuring cup
  • Essential oil roller bottles (or any glass container for storage) 
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1. Harvest flowers

Learn how to identify and harvest them here. When harvesting flowers, be mindful of how much is around you. You always want to pick about 30% of your surroundings, to leave enough for pollination to happen for next year's crop. 

2. Let the flowers dry out for a day

Leaving the flowers to dry out for a day will lower the chance of your mixture molding as it's soaking. Although you don't want to leave it out for more than 24 hours because they start blooming into the fluffy white seed heads (like dandelions). At this stage, their potency is drastically lowered. 

3. Put flowers into a lidded jar

Size doesn't matter.

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4. Fill enough olive oil to cover flowers

The less oil you put in the stronger it will be!

5. Leave by a sunny window

The heat will help further (speed up) infusion of the plant's healing properties into the oil. A warm place such as your kitchen works too. 

6. Shake it up daily and look out for mold

If you see mold you should scoop it out right away. If it continues, strain the mixture and use as is.

7. Strain out flowers in 2 weeks

Strain into a larger bowl so no precious oils get spilled. Use a funnel to put into the application bottles. 

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8. Store in easy application bottles

You want a large storage jar but also a little easy application container that way you can keep your supply fresh and have something to-go for when you're out in the bush (or trying to stop itching long enough to write an article).

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You can also buy drugstore arnica oils, creams, and gels in store but I find the potency isn’t as strong and not as effective. Or you can buy dried flowers online to make into your own oil which will be more potent. If you’re trekking around spring and see fresh flowers, crush and smear the petals on your bug bites and other pain points, the relief is almost instant. 

If you have any other natural ways to relief bug bites share with me in the comments below or via email here.

I was also having trouble finding one resource to show how to harvest these flowers specifically on the west coast. If anyone has a good source I would love to hear about it!